During the preseason, Pau Gasol #16 and Chris Kaman #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers were forming a solid partnership (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Lakers do not quite look right these days. After experiencing growing pains at the start of the season, the Lakers were playing exciting basketball before Kobe Bryant returned. On the court, the team took a step back, but the hope is that Bryant will help Los Angeles take a giant leap forward.
One characteristic of the pre-Kobe Lakers was their chemistry on and off the court. All the players had incredibly positive attitudes as Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni juggled lineups and sorted through his options.
Since Bryant has returned, something has changed.
First, Pau Gasol spoke out about his role in the offense and how he was not suited for the system being played. Gasol went as far as to even mention that a trade was a possibility. After that issue was addressed with a special team meeting, Gasol seemed to pop back into line.
On Monday, Chris Kaman decided to share his frustrations and regrets about coming to Los Angeles.
"I'm just going to take the high road and do the right thing, but it's definitely not what I was told coming in here," Kaman told Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times. "Obviously, I would have never came here if they had said, 'We're not going to play you at all.' I thought I had a good opportunity coming here.”
Kaman dropped out of the rotation due to a bout with Gastroenteritis following the Lakers’ preseason trip to China. However, Kaman re-entered the Lakers starting lineup and made three starts before falling down the depth chart. Back spasms have also been a problem for the 31-year-old center this season.
"A lot of people think I'm still hurt, but I assure you I am not still hurt," Kaman said plainly.
Over the past 12 games, Kaman has only stepped onto the court on one occasion. The Lakers were getting blown out at Oklahoma City, and Kaman played 12 minutes and scored nine points in garbage time.
The emergence of Robert Sacre, the energy of Jordan Hill and the star quality of Gasol stand in the way of Kaman earning more playing time. Kaman currently sits fourth in the depth chart, and there is no one behind him.
"It's frustrating and I want to be able to try to help if I can, you know? And I really, truly think I can, but it's not up to me."